“This skillful demonstration of the disease known as being alive, as diagnosed by a master playwright, is one I would recommend to any actor, student of literature or fan of tragedy and comedy. [Bill Irwin’s] On Beckett, which was conceived and staged by Mr. Irwin as an (almost) one-man show, carefully peels back the skin on an actor’s fascination with, and interpretation of, its title subject.”

The New York Times

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Writer and academic John Samuel Bolin on Samuel Beckett

“I first encountered Beckett through two novels that are not widely read, even in the university: Watt and Molloy. Simply put, these books forced me to reconsider what serious writing might look like. (I was then completing an M.Phil. thesis on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and wisdom literature.) Beckett and the Modern Novel was written out of a desire to come to terms, if I can put it that way, with what was happening in those books.

You know that Beckett reluctantly gave a series of lectures in 1930 to students at Trinity College, Dublin, and that two main sets of notes taken by Beckett’s students survive. Re-reading Beckett’s early fiction, guided by cues drawn from the lecture notes, I demonstrated that his take on what he called ‘The Modern Novel’ was largely cribbed from a pre-existing body of theory, French in origin, and in particular from work by an unacknowledged influence: André Gide. Further, Beckett then began to deploy and extend such theory in his early novels, which generated the fragmented form and ‘tripartite’ characters that have often puzzled commentators. From the beginning then, Beckett’s thought should be read alongside a body of Continental experimental writing of the pre-war period; and it was from this context that he also drew key paradoxes culminating in his mature theory of an art of ‘failure’. It seemed to me that Gide would be the last major influence on Beckett’s novelistic theory and practice that we would likely discover (so far I have been proven correct).

The monograph also allowed me to spend time with some of Beckett’s fictional interlocutors and inheritors, particularly in the French context: Sade, Bataille, Robbe-Grillet, and others.” — John Samuel Bolin

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“What was it about Samuel Beckett? In addition to writing fiction and plays that continue to absorb audiences and tease the imagination, the Nobel Laureate attracted collaborators in life and continues to extend his influence today. Writers from Harold Pinter to John Banville have acknowledged their debt to him, but it’s also a legacy that goes beyond words.”

The Irish Times

“Soft Border. Hard Beckett.”

“This latest Godot is part of the Happy Days: International Beckett Festival, now in its sixth edition, which shares August with the somewhat newer Lughnasa Frielfest, dedicated to another famous Irish playwright and located further up the Brexit frontline, at venues in Derry and Donegal. ” Frank McNally, The Irish Times

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Eimear McBride on Beckett’s Development as a Writer

“Of all I’ve read in my life, and all that’s yet to come, what’s going to count? How much of it has changed me? How much has even marked me? How much has done both but I don’t know it yet? Readers get to make these discoveries in the privacy of their own heads. Writers must make them in public and then wear them in their back catalogues for as long as they have a readership who cares.”

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Samuel Beckett: Style Icon?

Here at the Samuel Beckett Society, we’re not sure what to make of Robert Armstrong’s recent piece in the Financial Times about the end of the male style icon. Armstrong is wistful for a simpler time, when male celebrity figures were supposedly emulated and celebrated for their sartorial choices. What do you think? Does Beckett’s dress code influence the way we think about him as a writer and public figure? Or are these things irrelevant to the books and plays that we love?

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RESOLUTIONS COLON ZERO STOP PERIOD HOPES COLON ZERO STOP BECKETT

— Samuel Beckett’s 1984 telegram to The Times